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Roses

Roses

Spanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town’s founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been–not just for themselves but for their children, and children’s ch

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3 Reviews

  1. K. Harris "Film aficionado", 4 years ago

    144 of 149 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Love Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry, Except With Roses, November 18, 2009
    By 
    K. Harris “Film aficionado” (Albuquerque, NM) –
    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)
      
    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Roses (Hardcover)
    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

    Spanning three generations and nearly a century, Leila Meacham’s “Roses” is a throwback to epic storytelling in the vein of Edna Ferber, Margaret Mitchell, or Colleen McCullough. The book advertising, itself, makes the comparison to “The Thorn Birds” and those are pretty lofty expectations to set as McCollough’s “The Thorn Birds” has endured as one of the most beloved romance sagas of its day. In truth, I don’t think “Roses” is the next classic in that vein–but I do believe there is a lot to recommend this sprawling tale of forbidden love and family betrayal.

    In a small East Texas town, three families of enormous wealth and power come to reside. The Tolivers are cotton tycoons, the Warwicks are lumber barons, and the DuMonts are retail magnates. The mutual respect formed between these elite families set up a social structure that will have long lasting repercussions through the generations for all their progeny. At the heart of “Roses” is Mary Toliver, a heroine we follow for 80 plus years. Stubborn and single-minded, Mary is a terrific and maddening character–epitomizing the strong-willed matriarch necessary for just such a tale. Her male counterpoint is Percy Warwick, a perfect foil and the love of Mary’s life. Of course, these two are made for each other–and of course, they can never truly realize happiness in each other’s arms. Their grand romance is played through the decades with enormous vigor, and their dance together is filled with small moments of joy but mostly great tragedy.

    The first two-thirds of Meacham’s tale is terrifically engaging. Fast paced and fun, I was whole-heartedly invested in the Mary and Percy story and all the subplots in the periphery. Galloping through the years, the ill-fated romance stays center stage even as both parties move off into new directions. I enjoyed the characters and even as they created a new generation, that still remained a part of the main story line. However, all good things must come to an end–and ultimately, for me, the book loses momentum for its final third. Concerning itself with Mary’s potential heir, Rachel Toliver (the third generation and Mary’s double in both spirit and dedication to the family business to the exclusion of everything else), the story lacks some of the pizzazz that it had previously showcased. Still a solid conclusion, it just didn’t captivate me in the way Mary’s story had–so there was a bit of a fizzle instead of a crescendo.

    I really recommend “Roses” to fans of the genre. Ultimately, I’m probably not the book’s intended audience but I like to dabble in soapy sagas every once in a while. And, I found most of “Roses” to be entertaining and involving. I genuinely cared for the characters of Mary and Percy, and if you’re going to follow a family saga through the decades–that’s got to be a positive!

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  2. Kokopelli, 4 years ago

    74 of 84 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    An intriguing plot, but…, November 8, 2009
    By 
    Kokopelli (Austin, TX) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      

    This review is from: Roses (Hardcover)
    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

    I am torn over where to begin with this review. The author had the makings of a great book here with a promising plot line and what could have been great characters. Unfortunately, especially in the first half of the book involving Mary and Percy, the characterizations are uneven and undeveloped, and the motivations and actions don’t make sense. The second half of the book, involving Mary’s granddaughter Rachel, is somewhat better in these regards, or maybe I just got used to the author’s writing and filled in the blanks for myself. I was astounded to read that Ms. Meacham was a former English teacher, as her use of similes and metaphors is strained and off-putting, and her failure to correctly provide an antecedent for her many pronouns is rampant. Further, some of her sudden leaps in place and time can be pretty confusing, as they are indicated by nothing at all other than all of a sudden someone else is speaking or the action is taking place somewhere unrelated to what came immediately before. Maybe these missteps were present because I was reading an ARC, and they will be corrected in the final version of the book. I can only hope so, both for Ms. Meacham’s sake and the sake of her future readers. A good editor would have been a godsend for this version that I received.

    All that said, I was held by the storyline and the suspense until the last page, and I was never tempted to put the book down and not finish it. I think Ms. Meacham does capture the ambiance of small-town Texas (I grew up in a small town in West Texas myself) and it’s entirely believable that there were two or three “ruling” families with immense wealth and property and also great respect from the town. She reveals the secrets of these families in a convincing manner and maintains plenty of suspense along the way. My earlier comments about characterization refer primarily to the fact that the actions of the characters are not sufficiently explained by what we’ve come to know and understand about them. For example, Mary’s willingness to accept the vagaries of fate and not fight for true love does not square with her stubbornness about holding on to Somerset regardless of the consequences. Also, Mary’s realistic and straightforward approach to the farm and life in general doesn’t lend much credence to her devastating actions taken because of belief in a family curse. Of course, people are complicated and do have blind spots, but somehow the most critical step Mary takes is never justified at all by anything we’ve come to know about her. And Rachel’s final decision regarding her law suit is never explained at all. I’ve tried to avoid any spoilers in the preceding but I felt that I needed to justify my own statements by giving a few examples.

    I also think some family genealogy charts would have been helpful to remember who’s in what generation and their relation to the rest of the family.

    I hope the final published version of this book will have taken care of all my misgivings, and with that in mind, I recommend this book to anyone who likes a multi-generational tale of passion, suspense, and tragedy.

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  3. M. D. Mulhern, 4 years ago

    34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Could not put this book down!, December 20, 2009
    By 
    M. D. Mulhern (Alexandria, VA) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Roses (Hardcover)
    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I started it one snowy evening and had to stay up and finish. I was totally enthralled with Mary’s life and what had happened to lead up to the opening moments in the first chapter. The book sets the stage for flashbacks and the is divided into three parts: Mary’s Story, another main character’s story (no spoilers from me!) and then the present when everything wraps up. Even though I knew how Mary’s life had ended up, I was so captivated by her and the other characters that I kept hoping that she would make different decisions, change her life, etc. This book was a wonderful guilty pleasure….kind of like ‘The Thorn Birds” lite.

    I did think that the third section dragged a bit. Maybe because I was so wrapped up in the past and Mary’s life, I did not care as much about her great-niece Rachel, or maybe I was just tired. But things started to seem a bit redundant, especially the symbolism of the red and white roses.

    But all in all, I HIGHLY recommend this book!

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